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[casi] The Security Council that betrayed its mission

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The Security Council that betrayed its mission

By Hasan Abu Nimah

The Jordan Times
28 May 2003

Apart from lifting the 12-year-old sanctions on Iraq, but for
entirely different reasons than helping the Iraqi people, the latest
Security Council resolution on Iraq, 1483, has been a flagrant
betrayal of the UN Charter, a scandalous resultant of power politics
and opportunistic superpower compromises, and a dangerous submission
to the fait accompli of war and aggression, at the expense of
principle and international legality.

Earlier, in the weeks leading to the war, the council had stood firm
in the face of immense American and British pressure, boldly
refusing to prematurely undercut the arms inspection programme in
favour of a resolution providing legal international cover for the
military action against Iraq which was already planned by the US and
Britain. The view, in the council, of those who strongly opposed the
hasty resort to war, France, Russia, Germany, China and others, was
that any further council action would have to wait and be based upon
the final report of the arms inspectors whose mission was last
reconfirmed and defined in Security Council Resolution 1441. The
international community, world official and popular public opinion,
in addition to those defiant and courageous voices in the Security
Council, were gravely concerned and deeply outraged by the threat to
established international order the US-British war on Iraq without
council approval would have implied. That effort, spearheaded by the
French-declared warning to use the veto, had successfully blocked
the war resolution, rendering the attack on Iraq an illegal, naked

While some accused the Security Council of failure and inaction,
others, more appropriately, valued the council inaction as proper
and compatible with the council's basic mission of preventing the
use of force for settling conflicts. It is true that the council
could not stop the war, and that is because it had no available
physical means to do that, but it did, however, act correctly by
depriving the war of any legitimacy. Additionally, and although the
council had the power to condemn the war and demand a ceasefire, it
was clearly understandable that any such move in the council would
be aborted by an American or a British veto and that, for purely
pragmatic reasons, many believed that any ceasefire would have only
prolonged the life of a brutal regime which did not deserve to be

It is amazing how, on May 22, the council dramatically abandoned its
steadfast position by suddenly legitimising aggression, endorsing
devastation of an innocent country and its weary people, and by
licensing their indefinite, unwarranted occupation.

The latest Council Resolution is an extraordinary catalogue of
contradictions and flaws, a striking example of hypocrisy and
acquiescence to power politics. Therefore, it will leave a very dark
stain on the already inglorious record of the United Nations.

While the resolution opens by "affirming the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of Iraq", it recognises further "the specific
authorities, responsibilities, and obligations under applicable
international law of these states [the US and the UK] as occupying
powers under unified command (the `Authority')", and the Authority
here means Washington. The resolution fails to clarify how the
sovereignty and integrity of any country can be preserved under an
occupation which has, in the case of Iraq, left the country in total
chaos, at the mercy of looters, criminals and thugs, without any
services, vital survival basics or governing authority since the
total breakdown of law and order in early April. Neither does the
resolution explain how the partition of the country by the
"Authority" into three separate units along sectarian and ethnic
lines guarantees any territorial integrity.

Surprisingly, and while the desperate efforts of the occupiers to
find any of the alleged huge arsenals of Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction (WMD), which predicated the war, have reached the point
where the occupiers started advertising awards of millions of
dollars for anyone who would lead them to any WMDs location, the
resolution "reaffirms the importance of the disarmament of Iraqi
weapons of mass destruction and of the eventual confirmation of the
disarmament of Iraq".

The resolution obviously needed to affirm the existence of the WMDs
to save the occupiers the embarrassment, indeed the legal
responsibility, of waging a war on false basis; and that the
resolution did. The council also needed to confirm the exact
opposite, which is that Iraq is free of any WMDs, not only to
justify the lifting of the sanctions, but because it is an
established fact now; and that, the council failed to do because it
contradicts the interests of the resolution authors and sponsors,
the occupying powers, which the resolution was designed to serve.

Earlier attempts by the occupying powers to secure council approval
for lifting the sanctions in order to pave the way for their full
control of Iraqi wealth and natural resources were in fact met with
French, German and Russian resistance. The opposing group rightly
demanded that the closure of the sanctions file required the final
liquidation of the WMDs issue, either by occupier admission that
they found no weapons or by allowing the inspectors to return to
Iraq and finish their mission. Evidently neither option suited the
occupiers' purposes, as the last thing they would like to settle is
the WMDs issue in order to endlessly delay any troubling negative
conclusion. Consequently, this counterargument was also suddenly
abandoned, and the issue was treated in the resolution by a most
arbitrary and unassertive manner, "underlining the intention of the
council to revisit the mandates of the United Nations Monitoring and
Verification Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency
as set forth in resolutions 687, 1284, and 1441." That practically
means nothing.

Other idiosyncrasies in the resolution included peculiar stuff such

1) "Stressing the right of the Iraqi people freely to determine
their own political future and control their own natural
resources...", at the same time as the resolution legitimises the
occupation, and grants the occupying "Authority" full unlimited
control of Iraq's resources.

2) The UN resolves to "play a vital role in humanitarian relief, the
reconstruction of Iraq, and the restoration and establishment of
national and local institutions for representative government", when
it is very clear that both the appointment of a special adviser for
the secretary general, welcomed in the resolution, and the
appointment of a special representative, demanded by the resolution,
to upgrade the offer for those insisting on an active UN role meant,
in reality, to serve no better purpose than disguising the fact that
the UN will have no role and its officials will have no power of
their own, except perhaps as useful tools in the hands of the

3) The UN "stressing the need for respect for the archaeological,
historical, cultural, and religious heritage of Iraq, and for the
continued protection" (the protection never started, to be
continued) of such heritage, comes a bit too late, after the
occupiers left those historic treasures to be pillaged and destroyed
right in front of the eyes of their soldiers, to the great
bewilderment and pain of the whole watching world.

More alarming is the bizarre council invitation for "other states
that are not occupying powers" to join the occupation and to work
"now or in the future under the Authority". Furthermore, and clearly
to meet the occupiers' need for other states' support to maintain
their control in occupied Iraq, the council "welcomed the
willingness of member states to contribute to the stability and
security in Iraq (meaning to help the occupier to keep control) by
contributing personnel, equipment and other resources under the
Authority". How could this be anything but an open UN invitation to
its member states to support an illegal occupation, rather than the
UN taking charge of the situation itself, as required by its
Charter, building its own UN force under the UN flag and moving in
as a rescue mission to rebuild destroyed Iraq, and to free its

But the resolution descends from bizarre to ridiculous when it
"determines that the situation in Iraq, although improved, continues
to constitute a threat to international peace and security".
Clearly, this was an entirely thoughtless justification for the
council to act under chapter seven of the Charter; but it turned out
to be so absurd that no amount of wild imagination could explain how
a country which has completely collapsed, whose army disintegrated,
whose government disappeared, that the occupation allowed to be
ravaged and pillaged, that descended into total chaos, whose every
function has been paralysed and that is totally under the control of
its occupiers could be a threat to world peace. And what kind of
world do we live in that could be threatened by such a non-existing

And those are just few examples.

It was the precious hope of many, since the eruption of this major
international crisis, that those who stood firm by the principle at
the UN, insisting that the rule of law, not the blind arrogance of
power, should prevail as the guiding force in international
relations, as a guarantee for our peaceful future, would stay firm
on their position. They, sadly, did not, as the current resolution
proves. The question is: Is this the end of the battle or just a
temporary set back in a long, ongoing fight between the forces of
conquest and evil and the rule of law. The answer is hidden
somewhere in the Security Council chamber.

The writer is former ambassador and permanent representative of
Jordan to the UN. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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